Updated as of Oct. 1, 2021 at 4:02 p.m. to include video.
American soccer star Carli Lloyd has seen it all, from a college career to the Olympics. Before she spoke at Fall Convocation, Elon News Network sat down with the athlete to hear her thoughts as she gets closer to retirement.
The following conversation has been edited for space and clarity.
The latter part of your career that you've had help getting through, what has that process been like for you?
"It's crazy to kind of get to this point, the tail end where you're hanging up your boots, and I'm no longer going to be doing something that I started doing when I was a little girl. So it's a little bittersweet, but I am looking forward to the next chapter. I think what's special about this is being able to dictate when I wanted to be done with my career, and sort of have this farewell of me announcing my retirement in the middle of August, and playing out the remainder of these couple of months. I think that's been really special, but you know, this last chapter of mine has been pretty amazing. You know, I was coming off of a knee surgery in 2020, and reconnected with my family after 12 years, reconnected with Danny, and we started working together, I just feel like everything's kind of come full circle, and I feel very at peace and just content with everything that I've given over the last 16 years. And you know, just kind of soaking up these last remainder of the games that I have."
It's been an amazing career. And you've got a couple more games left in the red, white and blue. What legacy do you want to leave behind?
"Yeah, I've got two games left with the national team, which is probably going to be very emotional. But I think 'legacy' is an interesting word. I think that so many people get asked about, you know, what do you want your legacy to be. And I think that that's sort of, for other people to speak about, with what my career has meant to them or what they thought of my career. You know, I don't necessarily play for legacy, I've played because I simply love the sport and am passionate about it. I wanted to be the best soccer player that I possibly could be. And I wanted to help my team win championships. And with that, because of my approach, because of my all-in mentality, I wanted to be kind of an extremist, I wanted to do everything possible to set myself up for success. And with that, came a lot of successful moments. With that also came a lot of challenging moments. But it's all part of my journey. And I think the most special thing is sort of just being able to navigate that through being the best version of myself, and staying true to who I am as a person and a player. But the legacy piece, I think that's for everyone else to speak about when I'm gone and when I'm old and washed up 20 years from now, but for me that was my mindset going into it."
So, you like to play with an all-out kind of approach to the game– what made you want to come into matches with that?
"I would play every game as if it was a World Cup final, as if it was my last match I was ever playing. That's always been my mindset. I don't think that in order to be great, in order to be in that top 1% of greats, you can't turn your switch on and off. My switch has been turned on for 16 years straight. It's training. It's the running, it's the diet, it's sleep, it's recovery. It's studying the game, it's finding ways to constantly evolve. You know, even in my offseason and taking a little bit of time off which hasn't been a lot, maybe I take a quick little vacation. My mind has still always been on ways to keep improving and so because I have not turned that switch off. I have been able to reach heights that others haven't been able to reach and I don't think I fully have processed my career yet because I haven't allowed myself to go there, haven't wanted to become complacent. And I've always just started, always just been telling myself to just keep going, keep training and playing as if I have not accomplished anything. So I think when it's all said and done is when I'll reflect and look back on some of those moments."
What do you think you can credit to the training that you've done to get to this point?
"It's a work ethic, it's being all in, it's never switching off, it's you know, there's different levels of success, and my level of success is being all in 100% of the time. There's no cutting a run short, if I'm running for 20 minutes and cutting it short at 19 minutes and 50 seconds, like, I don't cut anything short, I don't cut my ice bath short, I don't cut my recovery short, everything is calculated everything is routine based. That commitment to excellence, that's what I have been about from start to finish. And it's been a fun ride."
You're speaking to a ton of people at the college age and you've been in their shoes as a student athlete. What advice do you give to them through this time?
"I think the biggest thing at this age is enjoying the journey, I think we all get caught up in, you know, just life and things that are going on. And we worry about things that don't necessarily matter at that particular moment. But just finding a way to enjoy the moment because as I told the soccer team today, life goes by so fast, especially after you finish college and everybody says it, you know, they're like, cherish your youth days. Because once you get out of college, you know, life just moves at a rapid pace. And I think that, you know, I look back and I wish that I enjoyed the process and a little bit more enjoyed the journey, you know, kind of was more in the present moment. I think I'm finding that now towards the end of my career. But that's what life is, life teaches us all lessons. And I think the beauty of it is that you know, we're all in the driver's seat to dictate what exactly we want to do and accomplish in life."
What are you most looking forward to as you transition out of your career, looking forward to life post-women's national team?
"Entering this next phase, obviously, I've never been in this situation before. Soccer has been my number one passion, my first love. And I've been doing it for 34 years. And so now I'm at this point where I'm not going to be doing it anymore. I'm not going to be working on my shot and working on my first touch, I'm going to continue to stay active, I'm going to continue to probably run for the rest of my life. But, you know, I am content with my retirement announcement, because I have put so many things on hold. I haven't skied because I haven't wanted to injure myself. I've sacrificed time with my husband, vacations with him, just time to pause our life. Friends, family, traveling, you know, just all these things that I'm just really looking forward to. ... I think it's gonna be great to now transition into this next phase, be a spectator, watch men and women's World Cups and just enjoy it. Eventually start a family with my husband, And continue to do some speaking engagements and take my clinics on the road and continue to help the next generation of players."